Cox Media and McClatchy Launch Hyper-Local FAST Service

Broadcaster Cox Media Group has teamed with the McClatchy newspaper chain on a free ad-supported hyper-local streaming network called Neighborhood TV. The partners expect NTV to reach thousands of small communities across America. Cox designates as “local” a cluster of neighborhoods or towns within and adjacent to designated market areas (DMAs), thereby building out rather than directly competing with established operations. The service is expanding after desktop and mobile tests in Atlanta, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina notched more than 100 million monthly impressions, according to Cox.

Neighborhood TV now officially rolls out as various 24/7 content feeds through major streaming services in addition to being available through over-the-air streaming, mobile and online. The programming will be specific to neighborhoods, serving within and around larger areas.

“The feeds include content produced by local NTV staffers, licensed feeds from the video platform Stringr, and some content from the streaming services dedicated to its local broadcast stations,” Axios reports. The hyper-local coverage will include local school board issues, sporting events, restaurants, nightlife and weather.

Many local broadcasters are “hedging their bets in the streaming era by launching free, ad-supported streaming networks that complement, but don’t compete with, the content they are paid to license to traditional television carriers,” according to Axios. Sinclair Broadcasting launched the local news and sports service STIRR in 2019, followed in 2021 by Hearst Television with the Very Local ad-supported streaming network.

Although the initial Neighborhood TV tests were to areas of about a million people, Cox Executive Chairman Steve Pruett told Axios the services will ideally reach nodes of 400,000-500,000 people, adding “we can always make zones smaller.”

“CMG performed early audience testing of Neighborhood TV and found viewers have an appetite for coverage of their immediate neighborhood,” reports StreamTV Insider. “The results found 72 percent of viewers had a positive first impression, driven by the content around things they need to know within their community.”

A Cox spokesperson told StreamTV Insider that Neighborhood TV “can also be found on Allen Media Group’s free ad-supported streaming service Local Now.”

“To help it scale quickly,” notes Axios, “CMG is partnering with local newspaper company McClatchy to distribute its hyper-local streams on the homepages of McClatchy’s newspapers, such as The Charlotte Observer.”

Hyper-Local TV News: Helping to Combat the Impact of TV Station Cord-Cutting?, MediaPost, 8/24/23

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